Are you warming up? Your comments seem to indicate that you aren't. Here's a sample warmup for the DL at 195 lbs working weight:
195x5 (working set)
If you do this, your muscles will be warm, you will have confidence in your form, and that first rep at working weight will be fine. Nothing builds a strong back like the barbell DL. I highly recommend getting Mark Rippetoe's book "Starting Strength" to learn the proper form. I also started with Stronglifts 5x5, but once I got the SS Book things got much clearer for me.
Oh, I just saw Rich's post, telling the same thing. Do your warm up sets! (and Rich is older that me. I'm only 61.)
Maybe we need a "creaky old guy" group.
what do you give up? Working the lower back as hard.
The question is, does that matter to you? You're still hitting the lower back a little.
I do sumo deads (I'm a hockey goalie and care more about my hip adductors than my lower back). I'm definitely giving something up. You can target the lower back with other exercises like good mornings.
Or, don't sweat it too much.